When a handful of new coronavirus cases materialized this month in a province surrounding Beijing — apparently spread at a village wedding party — the Chinese authorities bolted into action.
They locked down two cities with more than 17 million people, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai. They ordered a testing regime of nearly every resident there, which was completed in a matter of days.
They shut down transportation and canceled weddings, funerals and, most significantly, a provincial Communist Party conference.
By this week, the lockdowns had expanded to include another city on the edge of Beijing, Langfang, as well as a county in Heilongjiang, a northeastern province. Districts in Beijing itself, the Chinese capital, also shut down.